Working as a Heating Professional Can Lead to Success

Working as a Heating Professional Can Lead to Success

Forced Air Heating Versus Under Floor Radiant Heat For Your New Home

Abbie Wade

You're designing a new home and are ready to tackle the question of how to heat it. Forced air furnaces and radiant heat have been around for years. They both have their pros and cons, but they both will do the job of heating your home. Here is a comparison of how these different ways of heating work.

Forced Air Furnaces

Two variations exist in this category: gas and electric. Other than the way the air is heated, these furnaces work the same way.

  • A fan draws air into the furnace from the house through an air filter.
  • The clean air passes into a heat exchange box where the air is warmed.
  • The warmed air is sent out to the house with a blower through ductwork placed throughout the house, ending with a wall or floor vent in each room.

Maintenance and Performance of Forced Air Units

When considering any heating system design, have the HVAC manufacturer rep demonstrate any maintenance that you can do on their system. This way, you'll learn how to take care of the system to get the most life from it.

There is little maintenance that a homeowner can do on a forced air furnace, other than regularly change the air filter. This is an important task, though, because it affects the performance of the system.

Some performance points to keep in mind about forced air systems include:

  • Rooms can be warmed quickly because the air heats rapidly in the heat exchange box.
  • The force of the air coming out of a vent creates currents in the room which circulate the warm air.
  • Fresh air is continuously being introduced into the room.
  • The air filter removes dust, pollen, pet dander and other potential allergens.

A few issues exist with forced air systems:

  • Depending on the placement of vents in a room, hot and cool zones can develop.
  • Furniture and other obstacles can block the flow of air through the room.
  • As the air filter becomes dirty, the blower must work harder to bring in fresh air. This can shorten the life of the blower.

Under Floor Radiant Heat

There are also two variations of under floor radiant heat systems: hydronic (water) and electric.

  • Water tubes or electrical cables are laid out under the floor.
  • Warm water is circulated through the tubes, or an electric current warms the cables.
  • The heat from either of these designs warms the floor which warms the air resting on top of it.
  • The warm air rises, warming the room as it approaches the ceiling.
  • The air cools as it rises toward the ceiling.
  • When the air reaches the ceiling, it has cooled enough to sink to the floor where it is warmed again.
  • This cycle of rising and settling air keeps the room warm.

Maintenance and Performance of Under Floor Radiant Heating Systems

The tubes or cables are sealed under the floor so there is little you can do to maintain these systems. The hydronic version requires a heat source which can be your existing water heater or a standalone heater.

Some performance points to keep in mind about radiant heat systems include:

  • Rooms are evenly heated from the floor up so there are no hot and cold spots.
  • The floor is always warm if you enjoy going barefoot in your house.
  • These radiant systems have no blower, so they are silent.

A few issues exist with radiant heat systems:

  • Rooms heat slowly until the cycle of air movement is established.
  • Rooms can become stagnant because no new air is introduced into the room.
  • The air is not filtered.

Consider the pros and cons of each system as you design your house. It would be difficult and expensive to change to the other type of heating should you be dissatisfied with your choice the first time you use it in cool weather.


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About Me
Working as a Heating Professional Can Lead to Success

Do you want a job that doesn't require a four-year degree, doesn't have you stuck in an office all day and allows you to use your special skills and training to help others? You might be interested in a career in heating. My name is Carly, and I have been a heating technician for more than 10 years. I am truly a lifesaver to people whose heat suddenly goes off in the middle of winter, and you can be one of those special people too. Read my blog to find out how to get the training you will need to fix and install heaters.